When the PML-N government came into power in 2013, it made big promises of ending loadshedding, something that cost the incumbents their government. Four years on and into its last year, with all the promised projects and all the hours of loadshedding in place, the government has already started looking like its adversary.
What exactly is Pakistan’s power problem? There are issues of governance, infrastructure, theft, circular debt, generation and a lot more. But does the political class even know and understand how to deal with it.
Experts say the problem is less of power generation and more “of finances and delivery”. So far, it is clear that the government has focused more on power generation than on other more important issues — of governance and infrastructure. Naturally it is now stuck in the mess that results from bad governance — long hours of loadshedding that are a consequence of with huge line losses and theft of electricity. It is amazing how there are consumers that do not simply pay the bills, such as in Fata and in various other pockets.
The loadshedding has forced people to stage protests in the blistering heat in Karachi and KP, some of which turned violent. And all this comes at a political cost. With general elections just round the corner, the PML-N government is bending over backwards to solve the energy crisis, or at least bring some improvement.
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That is why that immediately after assuming power in 2013, the PML-N government cleared the circular debt worth Rs480 billion, with a friendly country coming to their rescue. Fast forward to the present day, the situation is not very different from what it was.
It has been reported that the government may acquire a loan worth Rs41 billion from commercial banks to retire the circular debt partially, the burden of which will eventually be passed on to the consumers. Whether that brings a temporary relief from power outages and whether that coincides with the next general election is what the government must be aiming for. Meanwhile, the country is going to live with its power problem for some time at least.